Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week: South Allegheny

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Monday, April 1, 2019 | 7:47 PM


The Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week started strong this season with six wins at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and has continued winning after returning home to Glassport — the South Allegheny Gladiators.

The magic number for the South Allegheny softball team is 11.

For three straight years, the Gladiators have finished with 11 victories, last year going 11-5 and finishing third in Section 1-3A.

However in two of the three years, South Allegheny was one and done in the playoffs; in 2017, the Gladiators fell in the quarterfinals.

Last year, the Gladiators lost to Ellwood City, 4-1, in Round 1.

However, change could be in the air. The Gladiators are 8-0 overall and a 2-0 in Section 3-3A.

“The 6-0 start down south was important from a confidence standpoint,” South Allegheny coach Hal Minford said. “We made the playoffs last year, but we didn’t play as well as I thought we should. The team building experience is a big help, as well as the practice time.”

Like many baseball and softball teams that open the season in search of good weather in the south, Minford said just being able to hit the field is huge in March.

“You cannot measure the importance of every player getting 15-20 at-bats prior to the start of section play. It also gave all four of our pitchers the opportunity to get extra work in game situations against other teams.”

When you are 8-0, there are many players doing their part in the circle and at the plate.

“I think our senior pitchers, Cortney Woytovich and Taylor Lucas, have been great,” Minford said. “Our entire lineup has hit well.”

To his point:

• Olivia Stetz is batting .500

• Christina Pasinski is hitting .591

• Sydney Kirkwood has a .350 average with 10 RBIs

• Kennedy Pikulla has a .556 batting average with 11 RBIs

• Aliyah Rotharmel has a .375 average

• Kelsey Denk is hitting .545 with 9 RBIs

• Madison Kirkwood has a .400 batting average

• Madison Taylor is hitting .560 with 9 RBIs

The 2-0 section start is big as Minford knows this seven-team Section 3-3A will be a tough slate.

“The biggest obstacles may be in our section with South Park and Southmoreland, who played for the championship and return a lot of players. Our section has six teams that qualified for the playoffs last year.”

Minford also feels the entire class is wide open and competitive.

“(Class) 3A should be really good with Freeport, Avonworth, Burrell and Beaver, as well as the teams from our section.”

But the main focus for Minford is his Gladiators. The 8-0 start is nice, but he knows there is a lot of ball to be played. But as the calendar changes to April, he likes his team’s experience moving forward.

“We have seven seniors that have started since their freshman year,” he said, “and three other players that have seen significant time which leads me to believe that if we continue to hit, pitch and field, we can play with anyone.”

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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